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Gardening in the age of water restrictions

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We were recently informed of how bad our water situation is in Johannesburg, and I am sure the rest of the country is dealing with similar problems.

Important news from Johannesburg Water: Water tariffs will apply to domestic usage from this month. The city says that the water level within the Vaal Dam has dropped to below 60% and residents are urged not to water their gardens between 6am and 6pm; filling up of pools, washing cars and driveways is now an offence. Johannesburg Water has asked JMPD to help enforce this and fines will now be issued for non-compliance.

So what does this mean for homeowners? You have just spent money on your garden, getting it landscaped, I’ve got some tips and tricks to ensure your beautifully landscaped garden remains as green and inviting as possible, even with the heavy restrictions in place.

I would recommend changing your irrigation system to water once a week at the coolest time of the night, when humidity and evaporation is the least and water will soak into the soil. Also adjust the watering times for each section.

You should also change a few of your plumbing pipes to accommodate for grey water usage.

Is grey water good for your garden?

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As a landscaper, these situations are tough. With the economy down people are not spending as much, now we are experiencing a draught making the landscaping business extra hard. But these situations also excite me as they give me the opportunity to help inform people about our environment. Things like how invasive plant species are a major threat to our biodiversity and water supply, or how to use indigenous plants instead of exotic plants within your garden are all aspects that I look forward to teaching South African homeowners.

South Africa has a rich biodiversity with many different biomes; think about the Karoo or the Namaqualand. These are both very harsh and dry areas, but once a year these areas are transformed into magical wonderlands of millions of beautiful flowers.

If you would like to learn more about water-wise gardens, follow HomeTimes as Spargo Landscape Consultants teaches you over the next few weeks how to change your garden into a water-wise master piece which will encourage more birds and butterflies into your gardens and will help you conserve water.

Crucial Note: Please inform family, friends and your staff about the water restrictions. We really need to work together to help conserve this beautiful land we live in.

Here are a few tips on how you can save water on a daily basis:Saving water

  • Put a brick or two into your toilet cistern – this helps stop the cistern filling up with too much water.
  • Put a bucket in your shower or basin when waiting for the tap to get hot – this water is clean and once cool can be used to water plants. Often hundreds of litres get wasted when awaiting the warm tap to get hot.
  • Wash clothes once a week, not every day.
  • Close all your taps and check your water meter: If it is still running then there could be a leak.
  • Instead of using a conventional geyser in the roof, go the gas route, thus less water and electricity has to be used (gas heats up water much faster).
  • If you own a garden, start looking at how you can collect the rain off your roof and look at storing that in water tanks.
  • Look at water-wise planting arrangements and installing an irrigation system with a rain sensor.
  • Cover your pool when not in use; this stops water evaporation and the need to keep filling it up on a monthly basis.
  • After your bath use that water to water your plants using a bucket or watering can. You will be amazed at how many trips with a 5 litre bucket it takes to empty the bath. Try not to give up half way – it is an excellent gym work out.

If you have any questions, or gardening topics you would like to explore please feel free to contact Spargo Landscape Consultants or email mariette@hometimes.co.za

Who is Nicholas Spargo?

Nicholas Spargo, owner of Spargo Landscape Consultants.

Nicholas Spargo, owner of Spargo Landscape Consultants.

Nicholas Spargo, owner of Spargo Landscape Consultants, has been in the landscape trade for 12 years as well as being a lecturer at the Lifestyle Garden Design Centre for the past year. He was awarded a Gold for a design at the Lifestyle Garden Design Centre Design Show in 2008, is an Invasive Species Consultant and is affiliated with the South African Green Industries Council.

Landscaping and education are very close to his heart



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